Book Review: China Underground


China Underground by Zachary Mexico was the third book I purchased on Semester at Sea. The book comprises a series of anecdotes of various Chinese citizens, whom the author met and interviewed while in China. These include sex workers, minority groups such as the Uighurs (a Chinese Muslim minority), art lovers, film makers, drug dealers (and users) and more. Their commonality is that they are outsiders, and that each sees their country and the world through a distinct lens.

The book is almost like a collection of short stories that can be picked up at any point and any time. There is something for everybody, although I would of course suggest reading the whole book. Continue reading

Books I Wish for this Christmas


This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is about our most anticipated 2014 releases, but I decided to jump a few weeks ahead and do the 24 December topic: Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me. Reasons being a) I’m not too phased about anticipating new releases because it takes a while to reach South Africa, usually and b) my family will be wanting to buy my Christmas presents before Christmas Eve… hint-hint, nudge-nudge, bash-bash.


Continue reading

Africa Needs More Books


I was walking through my home suburb (read:village) with my brother the other day. We went to the local library, sampled some books (slim pickings) and as we walked home, I asked about such-and-such a bookshop, and such-and-such a used bookshop. They were all closed down. Anyone wanting to purchase books needs to go to town (literally). A town which, incidentally, has only generic chain bookshops.

And I said to my brother, “This place needs more bookstores.”

And then, “Our country needs more bookstores.”

And then, “Africa needs more bookstores.”

morebookstores3 Continue reading

TTT: Books for South African Teens


This week on Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and The Bookish, the topic is Top Ten Books I’d Recommend to X Person. For my “person” I choose the average South African teen – young boys and girls of our country who grow up in difficult socio-economic circumstances. These are the books I’d recommend to them – granted, their reading ability would need to be up to scratch, which reportedly is not the case with many of our scholars, but none of these books are difficult reads.


Background image by David van der Want, click image for his site.

Continue reading

Book Review: Philida by André P. Brink


In 1832 at the southernmost tip of Africa, slavery continues to toil a seemingly impossible battle. Slaves at the Cape work the vineyards, build their masters’ coffins, knit their winter-wear, raise children – and sometimes, when their owner’s wives can’t or won’t, they bear them children.

Slaves are barefooted. Shoes are for free men.

Slaves are not buried in wooden coffins, but in an old shroud. Coffins are for free men.

Philida, a cheeky slave girl who has endured beatings and borne four children her owner’s son refuses to acknowledge. His promises of buying her freedom prove fruitless and she makes the journey to lodge a complaint against him.

Continue reading

Book Review: The Devil Wears Scrubs


Newly minted doctor Jane McGill is in hell. 

Not literally, of course. But between her drug addict patients, sleepless nights on call, and battling wits with the sadistic yet charming Sexy Surgeon, Jane can’t imagine an afterlife much worse than her first month of medical internship at County Hospital.

The Devil Wears Scrubs by Freida McFadden follows Jane, an Internal Medicine Intern, for her first few months of Internship. She has all the jitters of a slightly inexperienced young doctor, a lot to learn, and a senior resident straight from hell. Jane must learn to navigate the halls of a new hospital, survive on next-to-no sleep and side-step her vicious roommate. Continue reading

My First Manga (and Review)


I was fourteen when a friend of mine told me to try Manga. The next time I went to a bookshop I went to the Manga shelf and uttered, “But the book is faulty. It’s back to front!” Genuinely. I felt a little stupid when everyone laughed at me, so maybe that’s why it took me almost another decade to consider it again.

I got Bakuman in Japan earlier this year when I visited the Manga Museum in Kyoto. By Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, this Manga is apparently very different from other Manga, because it is basically a Manga about Manga.The story: Moritaka is a young schoolboy who is close to the end of his compulsory schooling and has no idea what he wants to do with his life, and thus no idea which high school he should attend (if any). He enjoys drawing, but his parents expect him to lead a “stable” life and he agrees, having lost his uncle to the consequences of overworking. Continue reading

Ten Favourite Character Names


I have a weird name, and when you have a weird name and you love genealogy, you get obsessed with the meanings of names. Mine has various meanings depending on translation, but can mean anything from “wished-for child” to “rebellion”. I believe names can influence who we become – my sister has a name meaning cheerful and as a child she was incredibly happy-go-lucky and full of jokes. If you’ve read The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay, you’ll be familiar with the obsession with names. Here are my favourite literary character names, as prompted by Top Ten Tuesday.

my-name-is Continue reading